Hi, everyone! Last July, Abyssal Chronicles had the honor of having an interview with video game music composer Go Shiina during Japan Expo 2016 in Paris, France! Doing the interview on our behalf is Europe’s Tales of Ambassador 2014, Lex!
To those who don’t know him, Go Shiina is a video game music composer under Bandai Namco Entertainment. He is best known for his works on God Eater, Tales of Legendia and recently, some tracks in Tales of Zestiria. This interview delves more into his work for the Tales of Series.
Below is a snippet from the entire interview, which you can read over at Abyssal Chronicles (link below):
Lex: Nice to meet you! I’m Lex from Abyssal Chronicles, a Tales of Series fansite, a site made by Tales fans for Tales fans. We’re here to ask you questions, mostly about your work in the Tales of Series.
Lex: Now, for our first question. For the benefit of the people that don’t know you very well, could you give us a brief introduction and a summary of how you started out with Bandai Namco, and composing music for video games in general?
Go Shiina: So I’ll first try to explain how I landed in Bandai Namco. When I first tried to find a job, I had so many interviews with so many companies and they all weren’t successful. I actually failed getting hired 46 times. Bandai Namco was the only company that accepted me. That was actually how I started my career.
Lex: So Bandai Namco was the only company that accepted you?
Go Shiina: Yes, they were the only ones who accepted me. Or rather, it felt more like they picked me up? (Laughs) They saved me, more like it.
Lex: You went through a lot of companies.
Go Shiina: Yes, so many. Those 46 times I failed include… banks, jewelry stores, food shops, department stores, there were so many… Oh, and an ice cream shop! And I failed all that! I even tried at Tokyu Hands and some convenience stores, but I failed all those. This was the only company that accepted me.
Go Shiina: After joining Namco, the very first thing I worked on is for the project team of Hammer Champ, the arcade game. I then worked on World Stadium, the baseball arcade game. Though I’d consider the real starting point of my career would be Mr. Driller. After that, I also worked on Ace Combat 3, and of course, as you know, Tales, specifically Tales of Legendia. I then handled Klonoa 2. This was followed by doing the music for the Kyou Kara Maoh! video game, which is originally an anime from NHK. I also got into the God Eater series, and Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection and Tekken 6. There’s also Tales of Zestiria. Right now you’ll also find my work in animated adaptations of the games, such as the God Eater anime and Tales of Zestiria the X.
Lex: So, how does workflow for your compositions go? Are you told beforehand what scenes or events to compose for? What kind of information is provided for you to help in your creative process? For example, are you given artwork from the game, or just written information?
Go Shiina: Usually, and there isn’t exactly a strict pattern to this, I’m given a playable demo of the game. Of course, it isn’t completed yet, it’s more of a prototype. This is very important for me to make the music. But if I don’t have access to this, I’m given assets or an image board which contains explanations and images of scenes and characters, as well as what color or “feel” they’re supposed to have.
Lex: When it comes to your vocal tracks, do you choose the singers for them yourself? If you don’t choose them yourself, may we know the criteria for the singers to be chosen?
Go Shiina: Normally, I listen to demo tapes coming from the agency for each track and I choose from them. I choose based on voice quality, dynamism and voice stretch. But the most important thing is that the voice should resound within the heart, even if the words are not understood. The only one who irregularly didn’t go through that process was Courtney-san (Courtney Knott). She was part of the choir that sung the track Snow Castle for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and I specifically asked her to sing Rising Up, the theme for the battle with the dragon Tiamat in Tales of Zestiria.
Lex: Fans are curious. What instruments do you play? Which instrument is your favorite?
Go Shiina: I actually rarely play instruments. I like violin a lot and recently I find the recorder interesting. It has so many variations such as the one that is played at school in Japan, the traditional one, sometimes with an earthy sound or a noble sound. I actually used it for the theme Katz Way in Tales of Zestiria.
Lex: In the booklet of the Tales of Zestiria original soundtrack, you mentioned that you also get inspiration from being in unconventional places like Starbucks. Do you do that when you have a “writer’s block” or is it all the time?
Go Shiina: Ah, I did say that, yeah (Laughs). For composing in Tales of Zestiria, when I go to Starbucks and have their cheesecake, the inspiration just runs, you know? Food is actually really important to me in getting inspiration for creating music. Of course, Starbucks is different from my home, so I go there to get something special for myself. What’s great about Starbucks is that they have Wi-Fi. I can bring a laptop over and actually work on my music there. It’s a good place to do brainstorming.
Lex: And just to get the idea, how long does it take to compose an entire score for a video game for, like Tales or God Eater?
Go Shiina: Using God Eater 2 as an example, it took me 8 months to complete the whole score. That’s actually longer than usual because I wanted to use the traditional instruments in China. It took much time traveling there and recording there, so in total it was 8 months.
That’s just a short snippet from the entire interview! Want to know more about Shiina-san, such as his favorite Tales game, his favorite track he’s worked on for the series, and perhaps his favorite food? Check out the full interview over at Abyssal Chronicles!